Jehu Kills Ahab’s Family
1Ahab had seventy sons living in the city of Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the elders and officials of the city,# As in some Greek manuscripts and Latin Vulgate (see also 10:6); Hebrew reads of Jezreel. and to the guardians of King Ahab’s sons. He said, 2“The king’s sons are with you, and you have at your disposal chariots, horses, a fortified city, and weapons. As soon as you receive this letter, 3select the best qualified of your master’s sons to be your king, and prepare to fight for Ahab’s dynasty.”
4But they were paralyzed with fear and said, “We’ve seen that two kings couldn’t stand against this man! What can we do?”
5So the palace and city administrators, together with the elders and the guardians of the king’s sons, sent this message to Jehu: “We are your servants and will do anything you tell us. We will not make anyone king; do whatever you think is best.”
6Jehu responded with a second letter: “If you are on my side and are going to obey me, bring the heads of your master’s sons to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow.” Now the seventy sons of the king were being cared for by the leaders of Samaria, where they had been raised since childhood. 7When the letter arrived, the leaders killed all seventy of the king’s sons. They placed their heads in baskets and presented them to Jehu at Jezreel.
8A messenger went to Jehu and said, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.”
So Jehu ordered, “Pile them in two heaps at the entrance of the city gate, and leave them there until morning.”
9In the morning he went out and spoke to the crowd that had gathered around them. “You are not to blame,” he told them. “I am the one who conspired against my master and killed him. But who killed all these? 10You can be sure that the message of the lord that was spoken concerning Ahab’s family will not fail. The lord declared through his servant Elijah that this would happen.” 11Then Jehu killed all who were left of Ahab’s relatives living in Jezreel and all his important officials, his personal friends, and his priests. So Ahab was left without a single survivor.
12Then Jehu set out for Samaria. Along the way, while he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13he met some relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah. “Who are you?” he asked them.
And they replied, “We are relatives of King Ahaziah. We are going to visit the sons of King Ahab and the sons of the queen mother.”
14“Take them alive!” Jehu shouted to his men. And they captured all forty-two of them and killed them at the well of Beth-eked. None of them escaped.
15When Jehu left there, he met Jehonadab son of Recab, who was coming to meet him. After they had greeted each other, Jehu said to him, “Are you as loyal to me as I am to you?”
“Yes, I am,” Jehonadab replied.
“If you are,” Jehu said, “then give me your hand.” So Jehonadab put out his hand, and Jehu helped him into the chariot. 16Then Jehu said, “Now come with me, and see how devoted I am to the lord.” So Jehonadab rode along with him.
17When Jehu arrived in Samaria, he killed everyone who was left there from Ahab’s family, just as the lord had promised through Elijah.
Jehu Kills the Priests of Baal
18Then Jehu called a meeting of all the people of the city and said to them, “Ahab’s worship of Baal was nothing compared to the way I will worship him! 19Therefore, summon all the prophets and worshipers of Baal, and call together all his priests. See to it that every one of them comes, for I am going to offer a great sacrifice to Baal. Anyone who fails to come will be put to death.” But Jehu’s cunning plan was to destroy all the worshipers of Baal.
20Then Jehu ordered, “Prepare a solemn assembly to worship Baal!” So they did. 21He sent messengers throughout all Israel summoning those who worshiped Baal. They all came—not a single one remained behind—and they filled the temple of Baal from one end to the other. 22And Jehu instructed the keeper of the wardrobe, “Be sure that every worshiper of Baal wears one of these robes.” So robes were given to them.
23Then Jehu went into the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Recab. Jehu said to the worshipers of Baal, “Make sure no one who worships the lord is here—only those who worship Baal.” 24So they were all inside the temple to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty of his men outside the building and had warned them, “If you let anyone escape, you will pay for it with your own life.”
25As soon as Jehu had finished sacrificing the burnt offering, he commanded his guards and officers, “Go in and kill all of them. Don’t let a single one escape!” So they killed them all with their swords, and the guards and officers dragged their bodies outside.# Or and they left their bodies lying there; or and they threw them out into the outermost court. Then Jehu’s men went into the innermost fortress# Hebrew city. of the temple of Baal. 26They dragged out the sacred pillar# As in Greek and Syriac versions and Latin Vulgate; Hebrew reads sacred pillars. used in the worship of Baal and burned it. 27They smashed the sacred pillar and wrecked the temple of Baal, converting it into a public toilet, as it remains to this day.
28In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.
30Nonetheless the lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” 31But Jehu did not obey the Law of the lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.
The Death of Jehu
32At about that time the lord began to cut down the size of Israel’s territory. King Hazael conquered several sections of the country 33east of the Jordan River, including all of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh. He conquered the area from the town of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge to as far north as Gilead and Bashan.
34The rest of the events in Jehu’s reign—everything he did and all his achievements—are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.
35When Jehu died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Jehoahaz became the next king. 36In all, Jehu reigned over Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.